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The success of the Nintendo Switch seems to have gotten a lot of companies to realize how much people want to bring their favorite games on the go. Starting with the Steam Deck, the handheld PC market has really bloomed into something else, and Lenovo seems to be next.

Lenovo is no stranger to fantastic gaming hardware (such as the Legion Pro 7i I reviewed earlier this year), and it's bringing the heat to the handheld market with the Legion Go, which has the potential to be one of the best Steam Deck alternatives.

At this year's IFA, we got to go hands-on with the Lenovo Legion Go, and we came away extremely impressed with this device's capabilities. More than performance, Lenovo has put a huge focus on everything else, and it seems to be delivering something that makes a device like the Asus ROG Ally almost totally irrelevant.

It has a huge, vibrant display

Lenovo Legion Go-8

One of the first things you'll notice about the Lenovo Legion Go is that the display is massive compared to rivals like the Steam Deck or Asus ROG Ally. The panel measures 8.8 inches, and it comes with a 16:10 aspect ratio. And since it has small bezels, it manages to still look somewhat portable. Still, that display is a massive increase from the ROG Ally's 7 inches, and the carrying case Lenovo had at the show is also huge compared to what you might get for your Nintendo Switch, although it's not too far off from what you get with the Steam Deck. While this is a portable device, it's not something you can really take just anywhere.

The display does look great, though. Colors are vibrant and punchy; plus with 500 nits of brightness, you should be able to see the screen easily in brighter lighting. Lenovo is also claiming 97% coverage of DCI-P3 for this screen, so it's well ahead of most competitors (the Asus ROG Ally claims 100% of sRGB, but that often means you'll be in the range of 80% of DCI-P3). Combined with the big screen, this should make for a good experience with playing video games and even watching movies. And if you want to pit this against other handhelds, the resolution here is Quad HD+ (2560x1600), and the refresh rate is 144Hz, so it's well ahead of the likes of the Steam Deck and ROG Ally.

Angled view of the Lenovo Legion Go with controllers detached while plying Powerwash Simulator

One interesting quirk we noticed during our hands-on time that you won't see in the final release is a cutout for a front-facing camera, which the device doesn't have. Lenovo says this is due to where the panels are being sourced from, meaning this was probably a screen made for a tablet that's being reused. But there won't be a front or rear camera in the final product.

The right controller is an actual mouse

A Lenovo Legon Go with the controllers detached and the right controller attached to the controller base to be used as a mouse

Another huge selling point for the Lenovo Legion Go is the fact that the controllers can actually detach from the main body, and it includes a kickstand. This makes it most similar to the Nintendo Switch, specifically the OLED model with its wide kickstand. Of course, the controllers include the array of buttons you've come to expect: two Hall Effect analog sticks, a D-Pad, an ABXY button array, and shoulder buttons and triggers, as well as rear buttons and a couple of dedicated buttons for Lenovo's custom software (which wasn't functional during our demo).

However, there's more going on with the right controller. For starters, it has a touchpad, which you can actually use as a mouse and even tap to click. I had some issues with it, but when it worked, it actually worked quite well, and it made navigating Windows 11 so much better without having to use a mouse. On top of that, there's a mouse wheel on the back of the controller, so you can even scroll more naturally, too.

This is probably the best first-person shooter experience you can get with one of these handhelds without having to plug in a mouse and keyboard.

But a touchpad still isn't ideal for gaming, which is why Lenovo also put an optical sensor at the bottom of the right controller, making it act exactly like a mouse. The Legion Go will come with a controller base for the right controller, which allows it to stand up and be used as a mouse. With the units we got to try, the base is just a piece of plastic, but the final units will have magnets, so the controller can easily attach to the base and be secure. Once you enable mouse mode (with a switch at the bottom of the controller), you're supposed to rotate the controller, which makes it a bit more natural to hold, and the shoulder button even extends to the side, so you can press it in this mode as a left mouse click. There's also another button below it for a right-click.

While we wouldn't use this for high-stakes competitive gaming, this is probably the best first-person shooter experience you can get with one of these handhelds without having to plug in a mouse and keyboard. It's really good and absolutely ingenious. Arguably, it's something every other manufacturer needs to learn from.

Build quality could be a bit better

Angled rear view of the Lenovo legion Go with the kickstand deployed

While we have to preface this by reiterating that the units are not the final versions, we do want to note that the Legion Go doesn't have the best build quality we've seen in a gaming handheld. We would put it above the Asus ROG Ally, but not quite at the level of the Ayaneo 2S. The Lenovo Legion Go is very lightweight, considering its size, though, and that's probably part of the reason it can feel a little more flimsy.

Despite the huge screen and the relatively bulky controllers, the Legion Go weighs 854g, more than the Ayaneo 2S, which weighs 667g, and the Asus ROG Ally, which weighs 608g. That said, I was surprised with how light it felt when I picked it up. Without the controllers, it weighs 640g. Of course, it does have things like a kickstand, which add to the weight, but it makes this a much more versatile device.

Performance should be on par with the Asus ROG Ally

We didn't get to any in-depth performance testing, but we do know that it comes with the same AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme found in the Asus ROG Ally, so we have a fairly good idea of what to expect. In our ROG Ally review, we often saw framerates up to 120FPS in Outer Wilds during normal gameplay at 720p with high settings and AMD FSR enabled. A less demanding game like Hades ran consistently at 120FPS at 1080p. Of course, that will probably go down if you want to push the Legion Go's Quad HD+ display, but it will likely still be very playable.

That's one concern we have about this device, though. That Quad HD+ 144Hz screen will rarely be used to its full potential with this hardware. Most likely, you'll only be able to push Quad HD+ at playable framerates in the simplest of games that don't really require significant 3D rendering. And to use both Quad HD+ and 144Hz, it needs to be a really simple game. You will have options to change the display resolution and framerate though, which should save some power.

There's also the matter of cooling, which could very well be better here compared to Asus' handheld. Considering the Legion Go is so much bigger, it stands to reason that it could keep temperatures under control better than the ROG Ally, so you could see better performance, especially in longer gaming sessions. Of course, we'll reserve judgment on that until we can actually play games on it for a significant amount of time.

The Lenovo Legion Go could be the best Windows gaming handheld yet

Angled view of the Lenovo Legion Go showing a desktop background

While it makes some odd decisions, the Lenovo Legion Go is almost unquestionably the best handheld gaming PC we've seen from a technical standpoint. The display is definitely one of the best you'll find in any handheld, and the fact that it actually has detachable controllers and a brilliant implementation of a trackpad tempts us to recommend it right away. It even comes at the same price as the Asus ROG Ally, which makes the latter device feel almost worthless in comparison.

Of course, you can expect a full review from XDA when the device launches later this year, so you can make your purchasing decision based on that.

The Lenovo Legion Go display render
Lenovo Legion Go

The Lenovo Legion Go might be one of the most interesting gaming handhelds yet, boasting a giant 8.8-inch display with a 16:10 aspect ratio. It also has detachable controllers, including one that has a trackpad that you can use as a mouse.